Burekby Telavivian | 30.04.17
Written by Lisa Geismar
Tucked away down an unassuming Florentin alleyway lies Burek, the latest addition to the hot Tel Avivian culinary scene. At first glance, it’s easy to miss, marked by bougainvillea trellises rather than traditional restaurant signage. Situated in Sigalit Landau’s former loft studio, it’s bursting with the industrial-chic, South Tel Aviv flare. A live DJ spins tunes from a balcony, guests sit at communal tables offset by Landau’s original artworks and the wide open kitchen screams for people to approach it.
Burek is far from typical, open exclusively on Wednesday nights for a prix fixe 7-course dinner. The meal kicks off with a free-flowing lemon-Arak cocktail and pillowy soft focaccia baked by head chef and owner, Chef Barak Yehezkeli. Unlike any other chef in the city, he engages with his guests throughout the entire culinary experience.
During the first course of house-made antipasti, Yehezkeli visits each table and plates the dishes on parchment paper. His presentation is deliberately haphazard, a melange of charred beets, caramelized fennel and fire-roasted peppers finished with dollops of horseradish cream. Before each table dives in, he reveals that the accompanying harif (hot sauce) is, to their surprise, made with seasonably abundant green almonds.
At Burek, curious eaters are encouraged to watch each course take shape—from Yehezkeli’s musings on the initial inspiration to the final execution. They stand beside him in the kitchen as he breaks down whole palamida fish (Atlantic bonito) for buttery soft ceviche garnished with zesty olive oil and foraged flowers. They watch steam emerge from baskets of boiling handmade fettuccine, and they bask in the smoky haze of slow-cooked meat. They even hear anecdotes about his visits to the local shuk (market) as he transforms one vendor’s zucchini blossom scraps into tempura treasures stuffed with creamy labneh cheese.
Good vibes abound as the night unfolds, and it becomes clear that a Wednesday night at Burek is like dining at a close friend’s home. Between courses, the restaurant team partakes in celebratory toasts with shots of Sabat Arak. Guests mingle under the patio’s dancing fairy lights with glasses of wine in hand. It feels intimate and laidback, with the bonus of a brilliant culinary mind, a surprise menu and a sampling of the finest local ingredients.
As the clock strikes midnight, the dramatic dessert course is served directly on the kitchen island to be devoured as a group. It takes nearly twenty minutes to prepare, with Yehezkeli moving layer-by-layer and piece-by-piece until a two-sided “Black & White” still life of chocolate mousse, whipped cream, frozen creme brûlée and poached fruit emerges.
Yehezkeli closes out the night with a declaration that the creation is a reflection of life itself: both sides of the island have different, albeit intriguing elements—and it’s often difficult to know which side to choose. But he presents the crowd with a solution, garnishing the entire landscape with kaleidoscopic flowers before everyone digs in with abandon. The restaurant is abuzz with diners reflecting on the highlights of the evening as they savor their final bites; undoubtedly with a new perspective of life and gastronomy in tow.
Photo Credits: Aviad Zisman